By Justin Flynn
When Abigail Grace collapsed at a school assembly and was rushed to hospital, she didn’t realise it would be the start of three years of worry.
Abigail was in year 10 at Bellarine Secondary College when she succumbed to a soaring heart rate and seriously low blood pressure.
After being told the incident was probably a panic attack, the problems persisted.
Eventually, three years later, she was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.
“Basically my heart beats at 120 beats per minute even while resting,” she says.
After countless specialists, tests and medications, and even being told it was probably all in her head, Abigail was told the news she didn’t want to hear: “There’s nothing we can do”.
The fall-out meant Abigail had to abandon her university plans and her dream of becoming a criminal psychologist and is unable to work, but her music career is slowly taking hold.
The talented musician hasn’t let it stop her from doing what she loves.
Her father Brett, who is also an accomplished musician and a very good saxophone player, gave her an incentive to learn the guitar.
“He had a Maton guitar and I loved the way it looked and I could already sing, so dad said he would give the guitar to me if I learned how to play,” Abigail says.
“He said playing the guitar would open up more doors for me further down the track.
“I pretty much had to teach myself and found it difficult but eventually got there.
“I really hated him for that, but in the end I loved him for it.”
The Drysdale resident, who turned 21 in April, has a voice that she reluctantly describes as “haunting, or at least that’s what others have said it is” and she is also an accomplished song writer.
Her blend of indie folk had her winning the busker’s competition at Portarlington Bowling Club Fair two years in a row, winning the Queenscliff Music Festival’s busking competition and being an opening act for country music singer James Blundell, also recording a song with him on his album Campfire.
And while Abigail seemingly takes things in her stride, she says she still has her bad days.
“Oh I still have days where it’s ‘why me, why can’t I do what everyone is doing?,” she says.
“But music is a great escape for me.
“When I’m performing, I forget everything and I’m in that moment. I don’t know what I would do without it to be honest.
“If I’ve got some problems in life or health worries, I go to music and forget about everything that’s going on.”
Abigail will often go to one of the supermarkets in Drysdale, set up out the front and busk.
“I’ll go down there and just busk for a few hours,” she says.
Abigail is a bit of a Jill of all trades, performing at weddings, cafes, pub gigs, wineries and private functions.
However there is a burning desire to take it even further.
With university and a career on hold while her condition is monitored, Abigail is steadfast in what she wants to do.
“I’d love to make a career out of this,” she says.
Abigail’s story can also be seen in the latest Geelong Coast magazine, out now and available from newsagents, selected partner outlets and information centres in the Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast areas.